The New England Patriots may have suffered their most disappointing loss of the season on Monday night, but the play of Shane Vereen gives them, and their equally disappointing offense, hope for the remainder of the season. Vereen, who has spent most of the season on the sidelines with a fracture in his wrist, came back on the scene in a big way against the Carolina Panthers.
A versatile back who does his best work in the spread passing game the Patriots have used to success in recent years, Vereen hauled in eight passes for 65 yards on Monday night. He missed the opportunity to make a crucial play on a wheel route — his specialty — late in the game, but that is the kind of dynamic option that Tom Brady has been missing in the passing game this season.
Vereen has been a frustrating commodity for the Patriots since they took him in the second round of the 2011 draft. Often injured, he has shown glimpses of his ability when on the field. Unfortunately, those times have been few and far between. What the team, and its fans, have been waiting for is to see him be a difference maker several weeks in a row. Hopefully he can stay healthy and be a factor for a Patriots team that is going to need him down the stretch.
The Patriots’ hopes for a first-round playoff bye took a big hit on Monday night. But if Vereen can be a difference maker in the passing game the rest of the year, they will be in good shape whatever seed they end up with.